Showing posts with label sci-fi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sci-fi. Show all posts

Saturday, January 10, 2015

SW Watches: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimenstion

We have a fairly recently instated rule at League HQ that Friday movies must be "fun".  It's the end of the work week for me, and Jamie's usually worn out by this point - so it's the kind of night when we'll put on something with more than two Amigos, but fewer than four.

But we've also run through the pile of lightweight comedies of late, and I dusted off a DVD I'd purchased probably ten years ago and put it in, and when the DVD menu came up, I learned:  Jamie had never seen The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension.  Or, as most folks call it, Buckaroo Banzai.  

yes, all of these people are in this movie, and more...
I first saw the movie during its theatrical run.  The Admiral, being no dummy, drove us all the way across town to the one cinema showing the film.  As I recall, Steanso and I loved the thing, totally and with no hint of irony.  I had no idea it was a throwback to the Doc Savage concept of the super-human leader with his trusty band of do-gooders.  I just knew it had everything I wanted in a movie at the time.  A brilliant neurosurgeon/ particle physicist/ martial artist/ rock star hero (and what right thinking kid didn't want to be that in the mid-80's?).  Aliens.  Other Dimensions.  Space Ships.  Ellen Barkin.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Signal Watches (and spoils) - Star Trek: Into Darkness (the title that made no sense)

Y'all know I love my Captain Kirk, Uhura and McCoy.  I have and wear a shirt with the image of Leonard Nimoy that reads "Spock is my homeboy".  My clock at work bears the image of the Enterprise.  I was ridiculed in 4th grade Reading class for wanting to be on Enterprise away teams when I grew up.  By the teacher.

I understand that one must reboot and refresh a franchise from time to time.  For goodness sake, I'm a Superman fan.  The trademarked character is more about how he's been interpreted in various incarnations than he is about any particular story.

I just don't think JJ Abrams is much of a writer or director.  And its possible Chris Pine isn't much of an actor.


What is true is that by the time Star Trek: Enterprise aired, the Star Trek franchise had become so insular and inward looking that it was basically extended fan service.  I don't even know if the show was good or not, as I found myself just... not caring that it was on as I saw it jumping back through the hoops I'd found all-too-familiar after multi-year runs of ST: TNG, DS9 and Voyager (a show I wanted to like, but found everyone but Janeway kind of perplexingly flat.  At least she got to make command decisions and wrestle with saving her crew).

Friday, April 5, 2013

Oh, Did You Just Figure Out That Maybe Disney Buying Star Wars Means Everything You Liked About Star Wars is Going to Getting Demolished?

Shoemaker sent me this article from i09.  It's basically about how, the afterglow of Disney's purchase of Star Wars and the sudden lay-offs, etc... start to settle in, someone realized that Disney probably doesn't give two Jawa farts about the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

As I said in my email response to Shoemaker: no kidding

once again, your avatar for what will happen to everything you once loved

Even when the first Expanded Universe stuff hit the shelf when I was in high school, I didn't read it.  I guess by the time those books arrived, I was pretty well aware that studio executives weren't going to care that some sci-fi authors wanted to write Star Wars books when it came time to make new movies, and those studio execs were going to include George Lucas and his associates.  When movies that moved past the conclusion of Return of the Jedi did happen, they'd be so much bigger than a series of fantasy books, that the books would just sort of disappear into the ether as non-canonical, leaving a herd of nerds wondering how to reconcile the irreconcilable, narratively speaking, in their minds.

Of course, for two decades we had Uncle George backing up the books - which I doubted he ever read, but he knew that without his stamp, those books wouldn't be taken seriously nor purchased by Star Wars fans.  And that meant less dough, so best to just approve them and worry on it later.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Your Daily Dose of Good Cheer (Bonus Edition): Sean Young in Blade Runner

Somehow I never pre-set this column to go off yesterday.  I simply had no post for 03/30.  Kind of weird.

Anyway, let's give Sean Young credit where it's due.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I am in the awkward position of admitting I liked the 2012 film "Battleship"

So, Jamie's dad had more than once recommended me the 2012 film, Battleship, which he'd seen in the theater.  I had heard some atrocious things online, but Dick was the only person I knew who had actually seen the movie.

A good, brainless movie can really pass the time on the elliptical, so I threw on Battleship, directed by the notable director and producer Peter Berg of Friday Night Lights fame, and starring Taylor Kitsch of FNL fame as well.

If you have high hopes for a groundbreaking film based on a board game, which throws up a title screen that this is a Hasbro movie, and which stunt casts Rihanna, well, you may come away disappointed.

I am not averse to, and am actually a fan of, what my brother calls "hardware porn".  Movies that feature lots of military vehicles, space ships, cannons, what have you...  and in this vein, I am quite excited for Pacific Rim.  It's worth noting that Battleship is probably intended for middle school boys, from the chaste romantic story to the color-by-numbers scrappy-rebel-learns-honor-in-the-military plot.  And, also, the complete fetishization of naval combat against alien aggressors.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Movies 2012 - The Final Commentary

As mentioned before, I watched and blogged movies 147 times, sort of.  Anyway, the point is, I watched John Carter 3 times, and never regretted it.  Process everything in the rest of this post* with that in mind.

So, the actual experience of deciding to blog every movie for a year was sort of in line with other "for a year I shall..." plans I've had.  Like the year I went vegetarian, just to be difficult. Yes, I did this.

Honestly, I think I was probably way down on number of movies viewed this past year.  I don't know how many movies people normally watch, but I know that for the first time in 5 years, my attendance at the Alamo and Paramount this summer was significantly lower than usual.

All that also took a financial toll in past years, and I've been cutting back on Alamo visits to try to better maintain our finances.  I'm guessing I still hit the movies more than the average bear, but it did feel like a down year for being at the theater, but maybe I made up for that in Cable viewership and watching home video.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: Killer School Girls From Outer Space (2011)

So, life is funny how it surprised you sometimes.

Not that long ago I was sitting in my office at work making digital libraries happen when a guy from my building who I talk to now and again, mostly "howdy" and "hello" as we pass, asked me about some posters from Mondo I have hanging up in my office.

"You like sci-fi?"
"Yeah!  It's kind of my thing.  Not so much the modern stuff, but I kind of dig mid-century stuff and maybe up to the 80's the best."
And we parted ways.
A few days later Bill appeared in my doorway with a DVD in his hand.
"A while back, my son and I made this movie."
My stomach dropped.  I like a good Birdemic trainwreck, but I like it from a casual distance.  I do not like to have to nod and smile and say "that was super!" when it was not super at all.  Then I looked down at the cover.

" that Ron Jeremy?"
Bill nodded.  "Yeah, we hired him for a day.  All green screen.  He was really nice."
"This is...  like, everything awesome about movies."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Signal Reads: Solaris (1961)

There is nothing like a beloved Polish sci-fi novel written in 1961 to make you feel like a complete idiot.

That was a better book than I was a listener.

I once saw the Russian film of Solaris circa 1994, but I'll be honest.  I'd had a lot to drink, and I don't remember anything about it at all, but when people would ask, I'd say:  Yeah, I've seen Solaris.  It wasn't exactly a lie, but it wasn't exactly true that I remembered seeing Solaris.  It's like saying you've been to San Diego, but you've only been to the airport.

So, on Jason's fiance's dad's suggestion, (I could have actually sat down and read the book, but that isn't going to happen, so) I purchased and listened to the audiobook of Solaris by Stanislaw Lem.  It's no lie that Greg is a much smarter man than myself (and you, too.  Seriously, meet Greg some time), and while I am sure Greg got more out of it than me, the book didn't disappoint.

It was also the rare book that I finished with the absolute certainty that I was going to read it again, because while I had grasped much of the book, I also knew that, thanks to the linear format of the audiobook, what I would have done to re-read certain parts, to flip back and forth in the book to piece it together when new information presented itself - I was just caught up in the flow of the story being told as it unspooled on my iPod.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Lazy Post - Intros of swiftly canceled 80's Sci-Fi shows

Here's the explanation/ origin story for TV's Automan.

When you think about all the work WB put into making Green Lantern's costume work in the movie, it all seems sort of silly. This looks just as good, really.

Here's the intro to a weekly episode.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: Looper (2012)

Like all non-comedies about time travel, this movie becomes primarily about the mechanics of the plot devices and which corner our characters will get painted into to make the plot make any sense.

Like all time travel movies, this one basically falls apart if you think too hard about the mechanics of what they're saying and doing - and once the movie concludes and you have time to think on it - no, it won't make sense, but that doesn't mean I didn't like the movie.  Also, no, I haven't seen Primer (I expect the comment section to get filled with Nag Troll Comments), but I basically expect for time travel movies to not really work as well as one might hope.  In fact, the last one I thought did work pretty well was 12 Monkeys, which also sent Bruce Willis cartwheeling through time and space.

So what did I like?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sci-Fi Watch: The Time Machine (1960)

Credit to Jason, he alerted me to the showing of the The Time Machine (1960) as part of The Alamo's Kids Club series of movies.  It's safe to say I have never sat down and watched this movie end-to-end.  What I did not know was that I had seen probably 90% of this movie in bits and pieces over the years.

Seen as a whole, it's an absolutely fantastic bit of cinema, and earns its place among the pantheon of pre-Star Wars classics, with one foot in the 19th Century HG Wells-penned source material and another in the atomic-age sci-fi boom, but landing squarely with a relentlessly tough view of humanity in something that looks like a family adventure film.  I'd also argue that, as a huge Planet of the Apes fan, I can definitely see parallels in what Serling was doing with his adaptation of the French novel of Planet of the Apes in order to tell his own Time Machine-line story.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Signal Watch Watches: Frankenstein Island (1981 - but you'd never know it from looking at the movie)

I don't really know where to start.


To explain, we watched the VOD version of this movie from RiffTrax with Doug, and he was right - the new VOD stuff RiffTrax is doing is every bit as good as the better MST3K stuff.

While the RiffTrax guys strayed from the world of punching-bag-bad movies and have stepped up to big budget Hollywood stuff in this format (and absolutely killed with it), it's still fun to see the old tools come out and see these guys at work.

So...  Frankenstein Island (1981).  

Oh, John Carradine, even your unused b-roll deserved better...

There are many things one could say about this movie, and among those things is the idea I find inescapable that director Jerry Warren, who had spent the mid-50's through the mid-60's creating the exact sort of movie that wound up on MST3K in the first place, was sitting around with his pals and said "Hey, let's do one more!  It'll be great.  Let's make a movie!" and this is what happened.  And so, in a way, I really hope those guys had fun making the movie, because it makes no sense and it's both mind-boggling and boring.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Klaatu Barada Nikto! Paramount Austin Sci-Fi Week is Coming

Hey, Austinites!

It's about to be Sci-Fi Week at Austin's own Paramount Theater, August 14-19!

There's a great bunch of films coming, and I am up for any and/ or all of them.

Let me know if any of this looks like fun, and we can join up downtown.

"Gort.  You stay here and watch the car."

  • Day the Earth Stood Still
  • Forbidden Planet
  • Metropolis
  • The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms
  • Planet of the Apes
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers
  • The Terminator
  • A Clockwork Orange

A lot of these movies are showing three days, so we have lots of options.

in case you couldn't guess, I'm pretty keen on seeing "Beast from 20,000 Fathoms".  And hearing Jamie surely describe the monster as "really cute!".

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Revolution" Sci-Fi Fail: Wrigley Field Will Never Be Overgrown with Shrubbery

In watching the Olympics on NBC, every third commercial break or so they're running ads for an upcoming big budget program, trying to capitalize on the Lost audience and grabbing some of the Y: The Last Man aesthetic without actually going there.  Plus: swords for some reason.

The premise of the show seems to be that for some reason, the world has lost the ability to have electricity, and possibly all modern conveniences.  Except for make-up and hair-care product.  This is NBC, after all.

I won't go into too much of what I think looks a little dippy from the commercial, but it was already enough to tell me I wasn't all that interested in the usual network attempt at sci-fi that always feels like a frat-dude trying to put together a sci-fi idea from the bits and pieces they liked on some other show, but, you know, where the chicks aren't all weird or dogs or nuthin' and we're not going to make it all lame.  Oh, and the new lantern-jawed lead is now the all-purpose 20-something-haunted-girl-Mary Sue.  Check and check.

What struck me as a sign of failure (and this is based on a show I haven't seen and don't really understand the premise) was that, to try to earn some sign of how bad things have become in the wake of us having to live like it's 1915 or so again, the commercial shows Wrigley Field has become barricaded by trees and overgrowth, with vines crawling up the front of the building.

their sci-fi premise is, of course, that the The Cubs could get into the playoffs this year

Here's the thing:  No.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Neil DeGrasse-Tyson Helps Confirm What I Already Knew

That the original USS Enterprise is an amazing starship.

thanks to Jordan for the video and link.

Apparently this was a fun panel at SDCC 2012 in which a bunch of folks have a sort of spirited but mock debate over whether this or that geek item is better. Tyson was attending the Con, but he was simply attending in the audience for this panel. However, one does not simply just have Neil Tyson in the room and not have him weigh in on matters of import such as "which spaceship is the coolest?".

Thursday, June 21, 2012

TL; DR: On Willing Suspension of Disbelief, John Carter of Mars, Superheroes and Sci-Fi

I was reading a post at The Onion AV Club offering a reconsideration of this spring's commercial disaster, John Carter, and a single statement stuck out at me.
On the run, Kitsch ends up encountering a Thern in a cave and is teleported to Mars. (I’m sorry, I mean Barsoom).
And with that, I had to re-evaluate everything else in the article.

Rightfully, elsewhere in the article the reviewer points to the pulp roots of the movie, that it was a film that perhaps reflected a different era not just of writing sci-fi (or, as it was called, "Planetary Romance" before "scientifiction" had been coined, which, of course, became "science fiction") but of film making.  Sure, I'm onboard with "not the right place on teh spacetime continuum for this movie, and not the right marketing"

But what struck me was the curiously quasi-anglo-centric/ xenophobic/ concrete thinking that belies so much of why sci-fi, fantasy, superheroes, etc... have such a hard time with an adult audience.  In short, I'm guessing this same author wouldn't have phrased it as "Kitsch end up encountering a Man in a cave and is teleported to Japan. (I'm sorry, I mean Nippon)." 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ray Bradbury Merges with The Infinite

Like many of us English-speaking Westerners, one of the great moments of my youth was having a Ray Bradbury book put in my hand.  Oddly, it was Fahrenheit 451 and I was in fifth grade.  Most certainly I had an ambitious teacher, one who did not mind much if she shattered our cozy suburban world with a picture of dissolute marriage in an ossifying culture that was just our culture carrying on from our current trajectory.

It'd difficult to say how much of an impact the book had on me, and continues to have on me, as I've returned to it a half-dozen times, seen the movie a handful of times, and even consumed it in comic form (one of the few forms of print Bradbury would suggest would survive the end of books.  The end of ideas.*).

Just a year before Fahrenheit 451, my parents, knowing I had a thing for that red dot in the sky, took me to see a play of The Martian Chronicles, and the honesty of what it had to say about us shook my ten year old little self.  

Throw in Something Wicked This Way Comes and re-reading the Martian Chronicles two or three times and you've got the literature that left an indelible impression on a worldview.  It's completely fair to say that these books had a huge hand in shaping my perceptions, and absolutely they posed the questions that helped to lay the rail for the long haul of developing a moral perspective.  And that's the value of fiction, I think, when you're coming of age.

And, really, how many millions of us are there who understood where Mr. Bradbury was going with all this?  How many of us clenched paperbacks on the school bus or leaning up against the wall while we sat on our twin -sized beds and learned something about us that sounded perhaps deadly accurate even when wrapped up in spacesuits or demon carnivals or watching old women die in a pyre of novels?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Signal Watch Reads - Further: Beyond the Threshold


I don't read a tremendous number of science-fiction novels, and I never have.  I know what that looks like, and I appreciate the fandom, but its never been me.  Sure, I went through my Bradbury phase and I glanced off the Robot Novels of Asimov, but even in middle-school I'd pick up paperbacks, read the product description on the back, and only rarely walk out the door with one I felt was worth the while.

I also don't read book series.  Its not that I haven't read, say, books by William Kennedy that share a set of characters and circumstances, but its not episodic in quite the same nature.  When I think about a series of books that numbers more than four, I can't get my head around it.

As you may have heard, I've been enjoying the writing stylings of Chris Roberson for a bit now, so when I heard he had a book coming out, I pulled some strings (asked politely) and got a copy.*

I just finished Further: Beyond the Threshold, a book I assume is intended to start a new series.

This is no-@#$%ing-around science fiction, and I quite enjoyed it.

Captain RJ Stone awakens from hypersleep which he entered aboard a star-faring vessel in the 23rd Century.  He finds himself alive and deeply aged 12,000 years later in a world which has changed over the millenia.  The era of seeking new planets has been conquered and mankind has spread itself out far over the cosmos.  With so much time passed, some of those civilizations have been lost, and the challenges of passing from one world to the next have been solved by way of instantaneous transportation via "thresholds".